Official figures have revealed that motoring fines totally more than £500,000 have been ignored by foreign visitors who have visited Cornwall, Devon and Dorset over the last five years.

Around £385,000 of the unpaid fines are for speeding tickets alone, with 10 councils in the region contributing to the numbers, with the rest coming from fines related to speed cameras.

One foreign vehicle was issued 72 tickets in one year in Exeter. Fines made by foreign drivers are usually written off if they are not paid within 28 days and the registration cannot be traced via the DVLA, which only holds records for cars registered in England, Scotland and Wales. Repeat offenders may be reported to the relevant foreign embassy.

Insp Richard Pryce, of Devon and Cornwall Police, said: “For one-off offenders there are options for us to ensure we try to trace them through contacting the country of origin but clearly we need to be proportionate in what we do.”

He also added that the number of speeding fines was only about 1% of those issued in the region.

The councils are considering employing third-party companies to chase the outstanding debts, but currently only Teignbridge District Council employs this technique.

The Department for Transport said: “Foreign drivers are subject to the same rules of the road as everyone else and it is vital that they are punished for driving dangerously. The police are already able to take on-the-spot fines from foreign drivers who break the rules and can immobilise their vehicles.”